Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Choose your shoes wisely

I've been dabbling in many different writing and editing projects these last few months since I last posted here, projects that have taken my time and energy, my concentration and my free time. Unfortunately, that has left this blog bereft of posts. And that matters. Because a blog is not really an effective blog if it lacks in posts. Posts are what bring the readers--not the cute background or the snappily-worded bio.

So, if I want this blog to be a successful endeavor, a connection to others with information on a topic that means a lot to me, I must commit to posting here. That's step one in how to have a successful blog. But beyond filling the page with words, the choice of words also matters.

While I've not been blogging here this summer I have been working on other projects, writing and editing articles and stories and books and resumes, among other things. I've learned a few things about what I do through doing it (the hands-down best way to learn something, if you ask me).

For instance, as stated above, I learned that your words matter--oh, you know that, but I'm telling you that your words and punctuation and grammar and spelling speak volumes above what you are actually writing.

To that end, I've gathered a few short tips on writing:

1. Use the right words for the job.
I took on a resume-writing project for a recent military retiree. He is soon going to be seeking a job in an environment that is far different than the one he's familiar with, and though his experiences may translate easily from the military environment to the civilian, we had to be very careful to write his resume and cover letter with non-military speak. You have to know your audience, and you have to play to your audience so they best receive your message.
If he were to use the same language that is in his military job description to populate his resume, he wouldn't be effectively communicating with the best message for his audience. He needs to use the right words, the most effective words. In any professional situation, it's important that your words carry a certain level of professionalism; know when it's appropriate to use a more casual tone, a more specific description, a specific turn of phrase. Know when to be chatty, when to be proper and when to break it down, yo.
2. Understand the importance of your message.
Not just the message you are writing, but the underlying, subtle message that you are sending with your choice of words, grammar and punctuation. When you present yourself on paper, your choices in structure and style make a statement far beyond the actual words you are using.  This also applies to face-to-face communication, but that's a post for another day.
No matter what you're writing (be it blog post, email, story, article, press release), you must consider what you're saying and how you're saying it, how you can deliver the most professional message to your readers. Humans are a judgy breed. We judge one another on the way we present ourselves and our messages. If your delivery is low-quality, your message might be received as the same.
Is your message presented in the most professional manner possible? Writing can be tough--yes, everyone can do it, but not everyone can do it well. It takes work, time and effort. But that's the good thing; good writers can be both born or bred.
3. Don't let your choices = shabby shoes.
Have you ever heard it said that you can be dressed to the nines and impeccably groomed, but if you wear shabby shoes, all your effort is for naught? Think of your words, your punctuation and your grammar as the foundation of your message, just like your shoes are the foundation of your physical image. Your words don't need to be overly edited or perfected, just as your shoes don't need to be expensive; but both your words and your shoes should be well-maintained and carefully chosen. Don't choose the shoes with the chewed up heels; choose the ones that are well-maintained. The details matter.
Choosing the right words for your message is as
important as choosing the right shoes for your outfit.
As an editor, there are some days when I receive hundreds of email messages; not all of them are business-related, but they are all there, cluttering my inbox. When I am sifting through those professional messages, the ones that are difficult to understand, use poor grammar or misspelled words may not get my full attention. But the clear messages do.

So, I give you the same advice that I give myself regarding this blog--show up. Do the work. Write. Just don't let a poor choice of words--shabby shoes--ruin your presentation.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! I don't think I have the skills to be an editor, but I proofread everything I write. It drives me nuts when I post something on my blog and later see that I typed "you" instead of "your." That you/your scenario instantly takes away from anything I read as well.